From Jewish Stories and Hebrew Melodies, pages 3-4
But all the various facets of the variously perceived writer pertain to one Heinrich Heine who bore the impress of the time and the place of his birth.
The idea of Jewish emancipation conceived in the Germany of Lessing and Mendelssohn began to become reality in the 1790s. The impetus for civic equality came from the French Revolution, and the laws of the French occupation emancipated the Jews in the principalities of Western Germany in 1795. It was in this Western Germany that Heine was born on December 13, 1797, in Düsseldorf, on the banks of the Rhine, in the principality of Jülich-Berg, a city proud of its cultural activities and its gardens. Its Jewish community had been established in 1608, that is to say: it was a recent one and did not have a ghetto. The ancestors of Heine’s mother had, as Court Jews, been financial advisers to the Duke of Jülich-Berg. From an intelligent and reasonably affluent family, Betty van Geldern sympathized with ideas of the French Revolution, and, in this age of enlightenment, took an interest in German literature.
Of limited financial means, Samson Heine, her fiancé, was at first unwelcome in the Düsseldorf Jewish community. The community as such had to pay taxes, and a newcomer not pulling his fiscal weight was considered a liability. But Betty successfully fought for his acceptance. A native of Bückeburg, near Hanover, Samson dealt in yard goods. Among his customers were the soldiers of Napoleon’s army, who were outfitted in the wools imported by Samson Heine from England.